Movie Review: The Shadow of Death / Cert: TBC / Director: Gav Chuckie Steel / Screenplay: Gav Chuckie Steel / Starring: Dan Bone, Daniel Carter-Hope, Sophia Disgrace, Corinna Jane, Jane West / Release Date: TBC
There is no shortage of low budget independent films around nowadays, but one that has been gaining a fair amount of online buzz is The Shadow of Death.
The story follows a group of house mates - sensible Debra (Jane), computer geek Jamie (Jamie West) and stoner Nancy (Disgrace) – team up with their wise cracking, loser friend Dan (Carter-Hope) and head out into the local woods to “score some weed.” Unbeknownst to them, a madman is doing away with anyone who crosses his path in the most imaginative and increasingly inventive ways. Holed up in an abandoned cabin, the group’s only hope may come in the shape of a deluded local who fancies himself as a police man. The self-styled 'Super Special Officer Cop' Craven (Bone) of the Super Secret Police Force stumbles upon some human remains (“I've found a head – is it one of yours?”) and soon realises he's out of his depth “Send Chuck Norris!”
Made on a shoestring budget, the film marks the début of Gav Chuckie Steel, who not only directed, but wrote the film and its music. We have become so used to low budget and DIY films in recent years that there is a certain expectation that, well let's be honest, the end product will be crap and amateurish. It is to Steel's credit that The Shadow of Death is neither. Despite only using domestic HD camcorders, the result is fantastic. Inventive use of angles, very gory and well executed practical FX and the post production work which gives it an over saturated 'grindhouse' look, suits the subject and settings perfectly, without falling into the usual traps of adding too many fake film scratches and pretending there are missing reels.
The characters grow on you. Personally, I hate the preoccupation with drugs, but I found myself even warming to the self-obsessed stoner played by Disgrace, an alternative model who appeared in the infamous Animal Soup (2009) and the oafish slacker Dan (Carter-Hope) whose banter becomes more bearable as you follow the character.
While the horror aspect of the story is nothing particularly new, the blend of humour and gore works really well, with some nice nods to the classics of the genre along the way, but at no time does it resort to copycat tactics or parody.
Hopefully the film will get picked up for distribution at some point, but even if that doesn't happen, Steel has a great calling card for future work, and is certainly someone to watch in the future.
Despite not making it to the FrightFest screens, Steel and actor Dan Bone (Craven) made it down there, handing out flyers, info and even copies of the film, so if you saw them, do check the film out and support an incredibly talented independent film maker on the website for the film.
Expected Rating: 4 out of 10